By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
In an effort to ensure that more Liberian girls living in Lebanon as housemaids return, the Liberian Community in Lebanon has confirmed that additional three girls have been processed and will be returning home this week. In a press release of April 13, the Liberian Community in Lebanon (LCL) Chairperson Morris Greene said the Community also responded quickly by intervening in the process for the release of the additional three girls as well as applied pressure on the IOM to act appropriately.
According to information gathered from Beirut recently, the Liberian Community through the intervention of the newly appointed Consul General, Anwar Ezzeddine; budget was cast to facilitate the LCL’s legal counsel, Maitre Hasna Abdul-Reda and each member of the community was instructed to make a contribution.
The Liberian Community said its members have been supporting the release of the girls by assisting the recent Liberian delegation to Lebanon and supporting the Consul General’s arrival to Beirut to release the girls from prison and to engage the legal counsel to secure a bond for their release.
However the Community is still baffled over the lackadaisical attitude of the Lebanese authority that to date, the lawyer has not received any legal power to act on behalf of the Community in Beirut because there is no clue to their case raised in favor of the girls whose complaint has been the Lebanese government’s treatment of some of the cases for which they crave to return.
Meanwhile, the Liberian government’s own effort was to dispatch a delegation to Lebanon headed by Labor Minister Neto Lighe who worked tactfully to ensure that the girls are returned to Liberia voluntarily.
The Lebanese Culture Union of Liberia through its president, Ezzat Eid who had gone to Lebanon also supported the delegation in locating the girls and engaging the immigration and other relevant stakeholders in Lebanon for which the girls who returned at that time swelled to 10 instead of the initial number of seven as anticipated by the Liberian delegation.
The Lebanese Community has vowed that those girls will return to Liberia voluntarily and with their integrity but in order to undermine such movement, they will work with both governments to ensure that no permits are given any Liberian girl to enter Lebanon as domestic worker.
Lebanon is a country said to be depended hugely on importing domestic workers despite its population. To date, approximately 500, 000 foreign domestic workers are in Lebanon which includes almost all nationals with Guinea along carrying about 5,000.
The case is that their entry into Lebanon is legally processed especially for those who engage in domestic jobs and according to the Lebanese Community in Liberia, foreign housemaids enter the country through legal papers that come from the offices of the immigration with the consent from the country’s Ministry of Labor under whose supervision work permits and visas are issued.
Sadly to that, it is no hidden secret that a domestic worker in Lebanon is paid just US$ 100 when each foreign housemaid’s travel could amount to over US$ 3,000 and they will have to remain with that employer until they have settled payment of the amount used by their bosses to import them to Lebanon before changing their lifestyle or moving on to other greener pastures.
Apparently, it has been a habit of the foreign housemaids to escape once in Beirut, Lebanon to other places in Lebanon in search of greener pastures, therefore the employers have strategized the seizing of their passports and other traveling documents so that in any case if they escape, they would be arrested as illegal immigrants, a situation which sparked the hullabaloo of Liberian girls being mal-treated in Lebanon.
If the return of the girls perceived to be domestic workers is anything to go by, that would bring to 13 the number of girls that were allegedly serving as housemaids in Lebanon and have voluntarily requested to return home apart from the purported 62 Liberian girls said to be stranded in Lebanon as sex slaves.